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The PATH Towards Border Digitization

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Business and governments in Canada an the United States agree in principle with the use of digital border solutions for improved efficiency and convenience at the border but the practical aspects of implementation have been fraught with challenges. The global pandemic taught us how quickly we can roll out new technologies for information sharing and touchless border processing. It also provided us with important examples of what not to do.

Lessons learned from the implementation of digital platforms such as ArriveCAN and CBP One point to the need for further bilateral alignment and inter-operability of solutions. Most importantly, the deployment of a long-term border strategy - supported by the public and private sectors in both countries - is essential to an integrated vision that enables greater trust and resilience across the U.S. - Canada travel and trade ecosystem.

In order to save time, reduce costs, and improve the experience for all travelers, FBC recommends seven principles to guide the development of border technologies that put people first:

  1. Simplicity - reduce the number of entries and app installations required for each trip.

  2. Interoperability - use and architecture that connects different families of digital border products.

  3. Usability - create digital solutions that are easy to use and navigate.

  4. Accessibility - allow for other options for users who lack technological know-how or devices; consider language barriers and vision or cognitive impairments.

  5. Bilateral governance - create institutional processes and an overarching governance for inter-agency alignment, similar to what was achieved with NEXUS or NORAD.

  6. Privacy by Design - build technologies based on commonly agreed upon privacy principles that are transparent and easily communicated to users.

  7. Security - implement digital solutions that provide users with the highest levels of security against cyberattacks.

In order to help advance this vision, FBC is launching the creation of a Bilateral Digital Roadmap for the Border, based on the principles listed above, aided by the input of FBC experts from across the travel and trade industries as well as government officials.

Read the full report, The Path Towards Digitization, here

The digitization of the U.S.-Canada border should guarantee universal access and usability of technologies for travellers, based on the UN sustainability principle of "no one left behind." The rules for where, when, and how digital apps will be used should be understandable and accessible by all stakeholders.


The 2018 Beyond Preclearance Whitepaper proposed a more predictable, secure and integrated vision of the U.S.-Canada border. We offered over 50 solutions with an estimated $13 billion in direct benefits (annually) for both governments and border stakeholders, including 16 pilot projects in the areas of border clearance, facilitation of legitimate travel and trade, and big data risk management. In this 2022 series of updates, the Future Borders Coalition takes stock of changes in border management, technology, and innovation, with particular attention to lessons learned from COVID-19.

The Path Towards Digitization, is the first of a multi-part series to create the framework of FBC's renewed vision of the U.S.-Canada border. Proposals are derived from industry and stakeholders' input through the FBC community as well as research conducted by InterVISTAS Consulting.

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